What seemed almost the impossible for a generation of National winners could be completed twice in five years if Noble Years retains his crown next Saturday at Aintree.
Red Rum in the mid-1970s held the honour of being the most recent back-to-back winner of the Grand National for 45 years until Tiger Roll defended the honour in 2019.
Now, a year on from bridging an 82-year gap as the first seven-year-old winner since the Second World War, Noble Yeats is ready to bid for another famous chapter in National folklore.
The Emmet Mullins-trained inmate is as short at 8/1 to repeat his Grand National heroics as we take a look at his prospects of entering an elite club.
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||5.15, Saturday 15th April, 2023|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming Service, ITV & Racing TV|
|Odds||Corach Rambler 6/1, Noble Yeats 8/1, Delta Work 12/1, Any Second Now 12/1, Longhouse Poet 14/1, Mr Incredible 14/1, Gaillard Du Mesnil 14/1|
Noble Yeats went into last year's renewal a 50/1 chance with one chasing victory under his belt and a ninth-placed run in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival as his most recent piece of form.
As a seven-year-old, he was faced with the challenge of becoming the first winner from his generation since Bogskar all the way back in 1940.
He was representing a rookie trainer in the race, albeit one with a burgeoning reputation for big-race targeting, and he had an amateur rider on his back.
None of that mattered as Noble Yeats produced a fine round of jumping on Merseyside and rallied in game and determined fashion when challenged by eventual runner-up to win jumps racing's most recognisable prize.
With his age and profile, a repeat challenge for this race was always going to be his fate given the manner in which he took to the challenge.
This season has been a success story for Noble Yeats against any measurement. There were humble beginnings when he was pulled up in a visit to Auteuil in October but that was soon consigned to memory as he won in Listed company at Wexford a fortnight later.
That Halloween afternoon was the first occasion Sean Bowen partnered him, with National-winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen having retired after their famous Aintree win.
Bowen got the job full-time and was in situ once more as Noble Yeats won the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase on his return to Aintree in December.
He came under pressure from three out in that race but, as is his forte, he really rallied to the cause the further they raced and ultimately proved too strong for Dashel Drasher and Ahoy Senor.
He's had two further runs, both at Cheltenham, since the New Year. He was a close third behind Ahoy Senor in the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day in January and then placed fourth in last month's Gold Cup.
Outpaced at one stage, he once more did his best work late in the race and was right on the heels of Conflated at the line, with the top two chasers in Ireland and Britain – Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame – ahead of them.
Given the quality on show, there must a genuine argument to suggest that Cheltenham run was indeed a career-best from Noble Yeats.
The greatest context for what Noble Yeats is attempting comes from Tiger Roll. The modern Grand National is a changed race from days gone by and so Gordon Elliott's dual winner is the obvious case study.
won his second National in 2019 off a mark of 159 carrying 11st 5lb in a race where 164-rated Anibale Fly had the top burden of 11st 10lb. The Tiger was rated 9lb higher than 12 months previously and won his second National by 2¾-lenghts from Magic Of Light after a near-perfect journey under Davy Russell.
Noble Yeats carried 10st 10lb last April and was rated 147, while the first-time cheekpieces he sported that day may have been a positive in his favour.
This time around he's rated 19lb higher by the handicapper and will have 11st 11lb on his back, with only Any Second Now (11st 12lb) carrying more weight.
He is just an eight-year-old and, as that Gold Cup run suggests, is still capable of better things.
Tiger Roll was the first repeat winner since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974. Before him it was Reynoldstown (1935 & 1936) and, before that, the likes of Abd-El-Kader (1850 & 1851) and The Colonel (1869 & 1870) managed it.
Noble Yeats must shoulder 11st 11lb next weekend and that leaves him in 'Red Rum territory'. as the greatest National horse of them all carried 12st in his 1974 win and 11st 8lb in his final success in the 1977 race.
Every winner from 1984-2005 carried 11st or less, while the outliers in terms of weight in recent times have been Don't Push It (11st 5lb, 2011), Neptune Collonges (11st 6lb, 2012), Many Clouds (11st 9lb, 2015) and Tiger Roll.
So if Noble Yeats is to join the back-to-back winners club, he'll do so having carried more weight to glory than any National winner since the mighty Red Rum.
He's looking to join exalted company, that much is clear, but Noble Yeats has shown once already in this race that trends are there to be broken.